OrderPaperToday – A coalition of Civil Society Organisations is demanding transparency and accountability in public finance, especially in the petroleum extractive sector. 

The CSOs led by the Executive Director, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Oke Epia, made this known at a meeting with the management of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency and Initiative (NEITI) on Friday, 13th May, in Abuja.

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The group was at the NEITI Office to formally introduce the Growth Initiative For Transparency (GIFT) project to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

Present at the meeting were the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Directors, and Head of Department, members of the NEITI senior management team and the GIFT project cluster – OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, CTA, Hipcity Innovation Centre and CLICE Foundation.

Epia expressed gratitude on behalf of the GIFT Project Cluster for the audience given them to brief the Executive Secretary and his team on the GIFT project. 

He stated that the project which has formally kicked off, is one being undertaken by a cluster of CSOs and BMO with support from USAID under its Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement – SCALE project implemented by Palladium

“The GIFT project would be undertaken for a period of one year and the project is about advocating for reforms around Transparency, Accountability and Good governance (TAGG) in the public finance space especially as it relates to the petroleum extractive sector,” Oke stated. 

He further emphasised that the project aims to use available data to engage state and non-state actors as well as create awareness among the citizenry to mobilize them for reforms.

READ ALSO: GIFT Initiative: OrderPaper Nigeria, CSOs decry annual loss of over 80m barrels to oil theft

According to Epia, “the project objectives were to advocate for the payment of outstanding liabilities as contained in the annual Oil and Gas Audit report, to advocate for the passage of the FRA, to increase response to service delivery of government implemented projects using technology alongside stimulating citizen engagement around project monitoring and evaluation.”

Oke described the objectives of the project as a triangular scheme which are related to what NEITI advocates. Hence a need for the visit in order not to work in isolation but to seek support, blessing, and advice from the Executive Secretary and in the hopes of receiving guidance in the course of the project implementation.

Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji expressed appreciation for the opportunity to finally have the meeting, while pledging the agency’s solidarity and institutional support for Civil Society Organisations whose interests they always have at heart.

Dr. Orji commended the working relationship they have had with OrderPaper Nigeria in the past which recorded huge successes and was sustainable. This is as he expressed greater faith in the GIFT Initiative with a pledge to provide all the necessary support needed to make the project a smooth one. 

He revealed that their implementation plans for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) project is a slightly unique one, in view of how EITI can be used to support the government’s desire for increased revenue and strengthen accountability.

READ ALSO: Fiscal Responsibility Bill: CSOs demand speedy passage of proposed legislation

The NEITI Executive Secretary highlighted all of the significant changes realised as a result of their reports on revenues collected. He described a link between their job of providing reports and that of CSOs in using this information to promote public debate and discussions that will foster a remedy impact. 

Dr. Orji also noted that the Audit Report for 2021 would be a unique one as technological systems had been deployed for the process of data collection and would likely be available on or before the end of the year. 

He spoke on debts of over two billion naira owed in the solid minerals sector and some other sectors which he expects the project to also address. 

The NEITI Boss further proposed a step-down session with relevant Directors – Technical and Communications where concept notes of the GIFT project can be shared to fully understand the scope and methodology of the project.

He added that asides the institutional support they are willing to provide, they were also willing to assign desk officers to the project for additional support. 

There was a presentation of the NEITI handbook to the Cluster lead, and a return presentation from OrderPaper to the Executive Secretary. 

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